Arsenal were dumped out of the Champions League, before the quarter-finals for the fifth year running, after losing to Monaco on away goals on Tuesday night. Arsene Wenger says the Gunners would be better off without Champions League football.
“Perhaps it would be better not to go out like this and make the Europa League, we would be more likely to win,” said Wenger.
There are two ways of looking at it. For a club like Arsenal, they should always be aiming high for glory. Their aspirations should always be at the top.
Having signed several top players in the past two transfer windows, and assembling a fine group of outstanding young talents, there is a feel that Arsenal are just 2-3 signings away from becoming a serious contender for the Champions League trophy.
On their day, they have shown they are good enough to beat any team.
And yet, there is this eternal problem of consistency, which Wenger said his players couldn’t deal with “mental pressure”.
From that respect (and secondly) Wenger’s comments are a reality check for Arsenal. And this is voiced by club’s senior defender Per Mertesacker as well.
“In the first game, we didn’t have that mental level you need to compete at the highest level,’ said the German defender. “That was missing but you could see last night how good we are as a team and how well organised we can be.”
“We need to consider that every day in training and in games. That is why we are so far away from winning the Champions League.”
Then again, for a team like Arsenal, that should not be an excuse at the first place. When you’re mentally not prepared to face knock out rounds in Europe, you take your opponents as granted, you get what you deserve!
Arsenal should be aiming / preparing themselves in a way so that they can progress beyond the round of 16 stage and further, not the other way round. Getting into Europa League means either they will have to finish out side top four or getting out of UCL at the group stages.
In all probability that would represent a good chance of them winning the Europa League but can be it termed as a progress in truest sense?
Is Wenger right is his assessment? Has it reached that stage where Arsenal need to step back and feel Europa League is best for them to win something? Or it is the truth, no matter how harsh it is.
Let me know in the comment section below…